by Daniel Liebe
Abbotsford’s Twisters Gymnastics has produced an abundant number of outstanding male and female gymnasts over the years.
With the BC Winter Games coming to Mission in February 2014, the local club is at it again, with several competitive athletes poised to own the podium.
Among the hopefuls is Francois Barnard, who said it’s “bittersweet” to have the Games so close to home. On one hand, it’s fun to travel further afield, but the upside is, athletes can sleep in their own beds and have family and friends come out and support them.
“I’d also like to do the nationals, and possibly the Olympic Games,” Barnard said, reflecting on his goals in the sport beyond the BC Games.
On the women’s side, Jadyn Ansell, Brienna Gaspar, Ella Palmer and Tamara Skulstad are among those aiming to qualify for the BC Games.
Ansell, age 11, said she hopes to use the BC Games as a springboard to the Western Canadian and national meets one day.
Gaspar, age nine, is excited that the Games are in Mission because she used to live there, and she’s focused on turning in a great performance in her former hometown.
Palmer, 10, is another ambitious young gymnast. She shared her pre-competition routine, which includes listen to music and spend time with her family.
Skulstad, age nine, has had a huge year already, winning all-around gold at the provincial championships and silver at the Westerns.
Shallon Heinzig, a member of the Twisters women’s coaching staff who served as a regional team coach at the 2012 BC Games, lauded the Games’ potential to ignite young athletes’ passion for their sport.
“I think it’s an amazing experience for them,” said Heinzig, noting that competing on a province-wide stage motivates athletes to set their own competitive bar even higher, and drive them towards even bigger competitions.